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Divorce: is it possible to DIY?

December 1, 2021

Megan Ryan-Loughran discusses the divorce process and answers this common question.

Sometimes, relationships just end. Sometimes, this is through no fault of either party and the relationship has just run its course. Sometimes, there is a triggering incident or series of incidents which have led to the marriage breaking down, but parties remain on relatively good terms. In these cases, is it necessary for parties to have their ‘day in court’, or can matters be resolved amicably?

There are other options to going to court, and they are set out in a flow chart created by Resolution, here.

It is not possible for a divorce to be finalised in England and Wales without the Court’s input, as it is the Court who grants Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, but it is possible for a court to grant a divorce without either party ever needed to physically attend a hearing.

The process of obtaining a divorce can be relatively simple, provided that both parties agree to the divorce.

  1. A Petition and supporting documents are submitted to the Court asking for the Court to grant Decree Nisi on the basis that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, relying on one of 5 facts to prove this.
  2. The court process the application and sends the Respondent (the other spouse) the Petition, with the Acknowledgement of Service to complete and return.
  3. The Respondent returns the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court hopefully confirming that they do not intend to defend the divorce.
  4. The Petitioner applies for Decree Nisi.
  5. The Court sets a date for the pronouncement of decree nisi (no attendance is necessary at the court for this).
  6. Decree Nisi is pronounced.
  7. 6 weeks and 1 day after the day of Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute.
  8. Once the Decree Absolute has been granted, the marriage has formally come to an end.

(The Respondent can also apply for Decree Absolute after a certain point if the Petitioner does not).

As set out above, there is no need to attend court in order to get a divorce if the divorce is not contested. The divorce process itself can be purely administrative.

If there are additional factors to consider, such as finances and the arrangements for any children, these are dealt with separately to the divorce process, however it is possible that these can also be dealt with without the need to go to court. Consider whether, in your circumstances, you may be able to come to an agreement about children or finances that works for both you and your ex-partner between yourselves. If this applies to your situation, there are alternatives to the Court process which can address these issues. The Resolution website has a wide variety of information and links to organisations (such as mediation and arbitration) that can help you with resolving issues about children or finances, if appropriate. Resolving issues early on can avoid to delays and complications down the line.

In some cases, mediation may not be appropriate (such as where there are allegations of domestic abuse), and in some cases, parties may not need to come to an agreement about children or finances (if there are no children of the relationship or if there are no assets to be considered, for example).

If matters are still too emotive at the moment but you do think that an amicable separation could be achieved, consider instructing solicitors to assist. Solicitors can help ensure that a Petition is drafted correctly, and we can also correspond with the other side on your behalf if necessary in a bid to progress matters.

If you would like more advice on the divorce process and what it entails, contact our team of specialists today at or call 01204 377600.